In Search of Eureka

Arquimedes_EurekaIn the early 2000’s for a while, I ran my own company as a coach. And while I was never going to earn enough to retire early in my mid 40’s to the Bahama’s (that was never the point) & here I am in my mid 40’s a testament to that, I had great fun & learnt a lot about myself, people and life in general.

I needed to do something to promote myself. I knew I didn’t want to do a traditional newsletter (oh for tools like mailchimp back in those days!) that just spammed up everyone’s e-mail and never got read, so I decided to write an “un-newsletter” – yep, I still sent it out to an e-mail list, but nope, it wasn’t in anyway self-promotey and in your face like a typical “buy this” ” you need xxx” kind of way, it was meant to be more like a short “thought for the day”. Nowaday’s we’d simply call it a blog, but back then blogging was in it’s infancy, so I guess it was my attempt at “proto-blogging”

In Search of Eureka

I was recently reminded of a question my son asked me a good ten years ago – he was about four and was sitting on the floor intently playing with his building bricks. His spine snapped to attention and very cat like, he looked round and with an innocent but very puzzled look on his face, asked me “Daddy, where do ideas come from?”

I was reminded because I was struggling to write something for someone and was finding it hard to find the most appropriate words, so I retired to the bathroom and had a long soak – I usually find if I’m in the bath can find the inspiration I’m looking for. I’m sure those that subscribe to a Freudian perspective on life would suggest it’s because “I’m looking to return to the comfort of the womb” and that’s the closest I can get to being back in the amniotic fluid, but to be honest, I don’t really care if this is true or not, what matters to me is that the ideas start to flow.

While I lay there, my sons question popped back into my head and I smiled to myself, remembering at the time I was stopped in my tracks – I could have responded factually and talked about neurons and chemicals and electricity, but I don’t know enough about that myself, besides he was only four. I’d also not long before that read a book which had the idea of “The Idea’s Foundry”, run by a woman called “Tinks” who’s job it was to supply us with ideas in our sleep, but for me that still feels a bit industrial and mechanistic. Instead I told him that there was this giant “Idea’s Catherine wheel” deep in space, whizzing round and each spark that flew off was actually an idea and as they flew through space down to us and sometimes they’d pass right through us and we’d never notice. If we were paying attention we’d notice them and we’d think we’d “Had an idea” all of our own. What we choose to do with it after that was up to us – we could either let it go and the idea would fly off and hit someone else and they might use it, or we could hold on to it ourselves and use it if we wanted.

He seemed quite content with this reply and immediately turned around and got back to his building bricks. But it does beg the question – “What do you do to find inspiration?” – for me its the time honoured method of old Greek philosophers. Or do you not bother to go looking for ideas and inspiration relying on other peoples imagination instead? but If you do, what do you do with them when they find you?

Dec ’04

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